Grant Fisher Children's Vision Interview

Grant Fisher Children's Vision Interview

Grant Fisher Children's Vision Interview

It's never too early to start looking after your child's eye health. OPSM, Australia's leading optical retail chain, is urging parents to be mindful of warning signs that may indicate their child is struggling to see clearly.

OPSM's Director of Eyecare, Grant Fisher, said vision impairment was easy to misinterpret in young kids.
"Vision impairment may be misdiagnosed as a behavioural problem, yet a lack of clear vision may be the reason a child is not responding well to lessons, not reading confidently or not willing to participate in sports or other social activities," Mr Fisher said.

According to Mr Fisher, warning signs parents should look out for in their children may include:
Holding books too close to their face
Losing their place when reading
Tilting their head, or moving it while reading
Rubbing eyes
Headaches during school or homework
A lack of confidence while reading

With Children's Vision Day, OPSM has highlighted its five top tips parents can follow to ensure their child's eye health is the best it can be.
1.Visit the optometrist at least every two years. Children should have their eyes tested regularly to monitor eye health and ensure early detection of eye conditions such as myopia, which can affect a child's learning ability.
2.Ensure your child wears sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats in bright sunlight to protect the eye from the impact of harmful UV rays, as eyes are more delicate than skin. Good quality sunglasses with 100 percent UVA protection are important. Children with light-coloured eyes are particularly susceptible to the damaging effects of UV light, and should be especially vigilant in protecting their eyes.
3.Eat nutritious food. A poor diet with a high level of fats and low level of vitamins can worsen certain eye conditions. Make sure your child is eating foods rich in antioxidants, and the right vitamins and minerals. A diet that includes plenty of fruits, leafy greens and eggs will ensure your child receives nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein and zeaxanthin - essential for healthy eyes.
4.Minimise strain on the eyes by ensuring there is plenty of light when your child is doing their homework or reading. Also, ensure they maintain a healthy distance between their eyes and the object they're looking at. Poor light conditions and focusing on things that are too close cause eyes to work harder than necessary. Use an appropriate desk lamp and teach your child to apply the "elbow distance" rule, where the distance between their eyes and the object they are looking at is no less than the distance between their knuckles and their elbow.
5.Limit the amount of time your child spends using digital devices. Extended screen time can cause eye strain. Watch out for symptoms of eye fatigue such as squinting, rubbing the eyes and complaints of back, neck or head pain. Ensure your child takes regular breaks from reading, watching TV and using digital devices.

Interview with Grant Fisher

Question: Why is vision impairment easy to misinterpret in young kids?

Grant Fisher: Often vision impairment is misdiagnosed as a behavioural issue such as not behaving or not following instructions when it could be as simple as the kids cannot see what is being referred to or cannot read clearly and therefore cannot understand what is being spoken about. A quick eye test could show the reason why they're behaving the way they are.

Question: What are the main symptoms that a child may have sight difficulties?

Grant Fisher: There are a few quick symptoms and none of these specifically mean a child has sight difficulties but if used in context and seen regularly then it's worth having their eyes tested:
Holding books too close to their face
Losing their place when reading
Tilting their head, or moving it while reading
Rubbing eyes
Headaches during school or homework
Losing confidence while reading
Also if they play sports and you are finding they're a little bit clumsy and have difficulties catching or picking up a ball when it comes towards them.

Question: At what age should children have their eyes tested?

Grant Fisher: Optometrists can certainly test their eyes as young as six months old if there are things that need to be checked out. I suggest children have their eyes tested before they start school as that is the best time to ensure you are setting them up for success. Children should have their eyes tested regularly throughout their school years.

Question: How often should we all be having our eyes tested?

Grant Fisher: I take my three children every year to have their eyes tested. Medicare covers eye tests every two years and as a bare minimum we should have our eyes tested every two years. Optometrists suggest eye tests at least every two years and as you get older there are things that change in the body which may warrant having an eye test annually certainly if there is a family history of Diabetes or Macular Degeneration.

In some cases an Optometrists can pick up things well before they start to cause problems in other parts of the body and then there are things that can be done through the GP or other professionals for prevention and to ensure you're in better shape.

Question: How can all Australians protect their sight?

Grant Fisher: There are a number of things we can do and coming up to Summer time when we Slip Slop Slap we should pop on a pair of sunglasses at the same time to protect the eyes against UV light particularly on days that you might believe are overcast as the UV light gets through the clouds and still can cause damage. Wear sunglasses when you're outdoors, especially in Summer.

Question: How does our diet help with eye health and sight?

Grant Fisher: Yes, similar to the advertisements for your general health and wellbeing eating a diet that is high in fruit, leafy green vegetables and containing essential vitamins is good for your body and what's good for your body is particularly good for your eyes as well.

Question: How can we protect our eyes when using computer screens?

Grant Fisher: Use everything in moderation, we are used to computers, televisions, Nintendo's, iPads, iPhones and things like that and doing any of those activities for too long, excessively can start to cause strains to the eyes which will cause headaches and sore eyes. Balance use out and take a break regularly.

I recommend to my patients to look away from the computer or television screen every 45 - 60 minutes for a minute, you don't have to get up from where you are but look at something way off into the distance almost like daydreaming which will start to relax your eyes and will be less likely to cause strain throughout the day.

Question: Does reading in dark areas damage the eyes?

Grant Fisher: Yes, reading in dark areas for long periods of time can affect some people and put strain on the eyes which can cause sore, itchy and sometimes gritty eyes or a headache particularly across the front of the head. We suggest having a well lit room to the extent that it would be lit if it was in the daylight. It won't necessarily damage your eyes long term but can create discomfort and you may lose concentration.

Question: Why do people ignore their failing eye sight?

Grant Fisher: As eye sight starts to change very gradually you often don't realise because it's not a dramatic change as it creeps up on you. Often we don't realise that our sight has changed until one day it gets to the point where someone points out "Didn't you see that car?" whilst you're driving. A lot of people feel, as they get older and feel they may need reading glasses that if they start wearing glasses it will make their eyes get a whole lot worse which is an old wives tale and absolutely not true.

Our recommendation is to have your eyes tested and see what the Optometrist recommends and shows you what it would be like before you decide whether you purchase glasses or otherwise. If you decide to not wear glasses after a test at least you know the correct information and you can make an informed decision on what you'd like to do, rather than avoiding it.

Interview by Brooke Hunter